When I first began working in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill, my initial impression was horror that the country was being run by a bunch of 20-somethings. At 23, I was solidly within the median age range and even felt old when I saw peers walking around with short skirts, finding myself thinking “how inappropriate!” It didn’t take me long to become accustomed to the age range of Hill staffers and soon it even made sense to me that they’d all be so young. The hours were grueling, the work was exhausting, and without energy, enthusiasm, and a youth-like belief in...Continue Reading >>
A few of P-BPW’s borrowers.
A regular borrower’s group meeting.
Borrowers making payments with loan officer.
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Field visits are by far the best part about being a Kiva Fellow. You’re given the opportunity to hop on a motorbike, hike up a village trail, and actually see the impact of a Kiva loan firsthand.
While this is indeed an incredible experience, after a few weeks of checking in on chicken farmers and vegetable vendors, you begin to think you’ve seen the extent of microfinance’s impact: a few new chickens or vegetables, a small increase in profit margins, etc.
But then you meet someone like Ms. Rita…
Ms. Rita Bashnet lives in the...Continue Reading >>
I should have been a better blogger.
After two months in the field as a Kiva Fellow, I have now returned home to speedy internet, reliable electricity, and a slightly more predictable daily schedule. So, from my comfortable desk with my cup of coffee, I will now try to make up for a less than prolific blogging history.
It can be hard to convey the sights, sounds, challenges, and small victories that are experienced in the field, but here I will attempt to pass along a few stories that might give others a better understanding of Kiva Fellows and the field partners that so...Continue Reading >>
During Kiva orientation, we each had to name our biggest fears about the fellowship. I said I was nervous about not fitting in—I’d learned to adapt pretty well while living in Chile for a year and on my best day I could pass for Chilean, but I knew living in Bolivia would be another story. As soon as I set foot in El Alto, however, I realized how silly my worries were as this fear was immediately eclipsed by another—the constant feeling that I was about to be run over by a minibus.
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The border by foot There are two bridges that cross the river between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, called Bridge One and Bridge Two. They have other names, if you look at the signs more closely, something like Bridge of Fraternity and Solidarity or International Friendship Bridge. But everyone here seems to refer to them by their numbers. On a recent Friday night I was one of the only people crossing Bridge One on my way to Laredo, passing a line of informal merchants who looked bored and ready to go home. The last of these was an accordion player propped up sleepily against...Continue Reading >>
“Hello Daniel. How are you? I remember you said that you were willing to help some of my students out with their English lessons and…well, I have a nephew whom I would like you to meet.”
It was 9am on Monday morning. I was drinking Nescafe and checking email, when the MicroInvest English teacher came in to see if I was still willing to fulfill the pledge that I had made the day before to give some of the locals a chance to chat with a native speaker. I was expecting one, possibly two hours of tea with an eager,...Continue Reading >>
Hello all! My name is Mark Disston and I am the newest Kiva Fellow to head to the field. I am writing this on my flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I will be joining Maxima Mikroheranhvatho. Maxima is one of the smallest MFIs in Cambodia but has ambitious plans to expand their services. I have the fortune of teaming up with Amy Killian, the current Fellow at Maxima, whose work most of you have likely already read about (if not, see Straws and Sandpaper – my favorite post).
The past week has been a whirlwind. In quick succession I bought...Continue Reading >>
I proudly remember how for the first 2 years of high school I was considered quite tall and got to stand for the annual class photo. From the 3rd year onwards however I was eclipsed as puberty prevailed in others. From then on I sat in the front row, demurely folding my hands in my lap. Not that I am short – I am 167cm tall – which by western standards makes me an average height. I would also describe my build as average – you will have to take my word for it as I have no intention of publically disclosing any vital statistics! So I pretty much...Continue Reading >>
For the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of data entry. Panith, the AMK Kiva coordinator, and I have been going through all the Kiva business descriptions so that we could enter their account numbers into an excel worksheet. This will allow us to easily track payments of all the Kiva loans. (AMK just got out of pilot stage with Kiva, so they’re still incorporating it into their business.) If I had been doing this for another job I probably would have been bored out of my mind, but going through all the data for three of AMK’s provinces turned out to be quite interesting....Continue Reading >>